The judge said YPD should have been able to police itself without a court order.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- City police got slapped with a gag order Friday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, barring them from talking publicly about an assault case pending there.
The gag order was requested by the county prosecutor's office, which thought that police stepped over the line of acceptable behavior and told the press too much about cases against Jamar Callier and Andre Bundy. The two are suspects in the August rape of a 21-year-old Boardman woman on a side street off Market Street.
The problem: "What we are really afraid of is that all the pretrial publicity will prejudice the jury pool," said Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Franken.
He said police have given the press information about the suspects' confessions and interviews and have made comments about the credibility of witnesses. Although Franken did not identify her in court, prosecutors were specifically upset with comments made by Detective Sgt. Delphine Baldwin Casey of the police department's crisis intervention unit.
Judge R. Scott Krichbaum said the police department should be able to police itself in such matters without being restrained by a gag order.
"Quite honestly, it's a matter of police discipline. I'm certainly not going to oversee the business of the police department," he said.
But moments later, Judge Krichbaum said that the police department's activity in talking to the press has "gone beyond what is appropriate" and handed down the gag order.
Restrictions: Any public statements from police must be made through the prosecutor's office. The judge also cautioned the lawyers in the case against speaking out of turn as well. He said there are rules of conduct about what lawyers can and cannot say about a pending case.
Casey said afterward that she'll abide by the gag order but that she was bothered that neither she nor anyone from the police department was given a chance to offer their side of the story during the hearing.
Police Chief Richard Lewis was in the courtroom but declined to comment after the hearing.